A huge hit in France, first-time writer-director Gilles Mimouni's Hitchcockian thriller was remade in 2004 as the pallid, Chicago-set WICKER PARK. Sleek young adman Max (Vincent Cassel), who's about to leave for Tokyo on an important business trip, is having lunch with his elegant girlfriend (soon to be fiancee) Muriel (Sandrine Kiberlain), his boss and two Japanese clients when a familiar voice jolts him into an unwelcome flashback. The woman using the restaurant's enclosed pay phone sounds exactly like his ex-girlfriend, Lisa (Monica Bellucci), who broke his heart two years early by vanishing without so much as a goodbye. Back then, Max worked in a video-equipment rental/repair shop and first spotted Lisa, an actress, as she walked past the store. Max's playboy pal, shoe-hop owner Lucien (Jean-Philippe Ecoffey), bullied the shy Max into introducing himself when Lisa serendipitously came in to buy a distinctive pair of red heels. They quickly became inseparable, until she took off abruptly on an overseas tour and severed all contact. Startled out of his reverie, Max intends to speak to the woman in the phone booth, but catches only a glimpse of her red shoes as she abruptly rushes out. Determined to find Lisa and ask why she treated him so shabbily, Max secretly cancels his Tokyo ticket and traces the elusive woman from the restaurant first to a hotel, then to a lushly appointed apartment. But when he finally comes face to face with his quarry, she turns out not to be Lisa at all: She's a nurse named Alice (Romane Bohringer), who seduces Max without distracting him from his quest. While Max investigates a wealthy widower named Daniel (Olivier Granier), who was apparently stalking Lisa, Lucien is in a quandary over the mysterious, high-strung actress he's been dating, whose hot-and-cold behavior has his emotions in a twist. As the film's intricately interlaced, non-linear flashbacks begin to untangle themselves and the complicated relationships between the main characters come into focus, it becomes clear that one way or another, Max's search for his lost Lisa will end in tears. Despite the story's preposterous terms, the strong cast makes this meditation on love and loss resonate with surprising power. Though WICKER PARK is very nearly a scene-for-scene remake, most of the Daniel subplot was excised (leaving a few confusing shots that muddy an already convoluted story) and replaced the bittersweet conclusion ending with a profoundly unconvincing happy ending.
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: NR
- Review: A huge hit in France, first-time writer-director Gilles Mimouni's Hitchcockian thriller was remade in 2004 as the pallid, Chicago-set WICKER PARK. Sleek young adman Max (Vincent Cassel), who's about to leave for Tokyo on an important business trip, is havi… (more)